The most important aspect of a happy family is “family connection” – the ability to communicate, support, and enhance relationships among family members — parents, children, and siblings.
Every family member should feel understood, loved, wanted and paid attention to in order to create caring and consistent emotional bonds between parent-child and spouses/partners.
Our society does not always foster strong family connections. We have so many modern technologies, but do we really communicate more with each other? In the midst of our hectic lifestyles, do we successfully connect with our spouses and children?
So many of the problems of our young people—drug use, crime, suicide, irresponsible sexual behavior, feelings of alienation, etc.—are a result of not having nurturing connections and bonds with parents and family. Even in affluent families, many young people today feel empty and unmotivated and turn to external and not always positive sources to feel some type of connection.
As parents of young children, you can begin establishing the foundation of a “well-connected family”.
Indicators of Family Connectedness
1. Does your family make eye contact with each other?
2. Are children involved in age-appropriate ways while parents accomplish errands, i.e. helping put items in the shopping cart, discussing a gift for Grandparents?
Every task can be a learning experience, an opportunity to think and discover.
3. Are you aware of each other’s limitations, both physically and emotionally? Do parents need quiet time to recover from a stressful day at work? Are expectations developmentally appropriate for each child?
4. Do you check in with each other, asking how each other’s day has been, how each family member is feeling? Talking freely about feelings gives your child the vocabulary for their emotions and the permission to express them.
5. Do you nurture your family values? Using the term “In our family” lets your children know what your family’s values are and what your family identity is. For example, “In our family, we speak politely to each other,” “In our family we all help to clean up the toys,” or “In our family, we don’t abuse drugs and alcohol.”
6. Give hugs, often? Expressing physical affection is critical for each other’s emotional well-being. This is important for Mom and Dad, as well as the kids.
Sometimes it is just the everyday, little kindnesses that deepen our family’s relationships.
7. Does your family have a way to connect spiritually? Do you listen to and respect each other’s opinions?
8. Do you read together as a family?
9. Do you discuss family business, ideas, world news, etc. in age-appropriate ways? Inclusion in family decisions and external issues helps children feel valued and respected for their ideas and opinions.
10. Do you have family meetings on a regular basis? Bringing family members together creates an opportunity for open communication and togetherness.